Bird flu case confirmed in turkey flock in southwestern Indiana

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A case of high pathogenic avian influenza (H7N8), commonly known as bird flu, has been confirmed in a commercial turkey flock in southwestern Indiana.

The turkeys are from a farm in Dubois County. Samples from the flock were sent to a laboratory for testing after several hundred birds died.

Officials say avian influenza does not pose a food safety risk, so poultry and eggs are safe to eat. The Centers for Disease Control considers the risk of illness to humans to be low.

“This finding of highly pathogenic H7N8 is unique to Indiana and the nation,” said Indiana State Veterinarian Bret D. Marsh, DVM. “This strain is unrelated to those identified in the Upper Midwest in 2015, nor is it related to the HPAI case identified in a Northeastern Indiana backyard poultry flock that was affected last May.”

Indiana ranks fourth nationally in turkey production. The poultry industry employs more than 14,000 Hoosiers and is valued at $2.5 billion, said officials.

Gov. Pence released the following statement Friday:

“Indiana is one of the largest poultry states in America, and I have directed all relevant agencies to bring the full resources of the state of Indiana to bear on containing and resolving the issue as quickly as possible. Multiple state agencies have been heavily focused for nearly a year on the necessary steps in this type of event, including the State Board of Animal Health, Indiana State Department of Agriculture, Indiana Department of Homeland Security, Indiana Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory, Indiana Department of Environmental Management, Indiana State Poultry Association, and several private sector partners. Hoosiers can be assured that we are taking all precautions to contain the situation and minimize the effects to Indiana’s robust poultry industry.”

Poultry owners are encouraged to recognize the signs of avian influenza and report illness or death to the USDA Healthy Birds Hotline: 866-536-7593.

Signs include: sudden death without clinical signs; lack of energy or appetite; decreased egg production; soft-shelled or misshapen eggs; swelling or purple discoloration of head, eyelids, comb, hocks; nasal discharge; coughing; sneezing; incoordination; and diarrhea. A great resource for backyard bird health information is online at: http://www.healthybirds.aphis.usda.gov